Wall Street paid more attention to making deals than to trading stocks for most of Monday's session, then was hit with a minor end-of-the day sell-off.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 45 points to 10,371.47.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index slipped 5 points to 1,130.32.
The Nasdaq Stock Market composite index lost 12 points, closing at 1,974.38.
All three indexes traded close to the break-even point until the final hour of trading, then skidded toward the closing bell.
While stocks languished, Wall Street tallied up the profits its investment bankers made on several big mergers that were announced.
Bloomberg estimated that Merrill Lynch and UBS will split almost $28 million in fees for arranging the day's biggest deal, Wachovia's $14.3 billion purchase of the Florida-based SouthTrust. Already the nation's fourth largest bank, Wachovia will expand its presence in the southeast with the purchase.
In today's other deals:
The Bacardi rum company agreed to buy the Grey Goose vodka brand for about $2 billion. Sales of vodka are growing twice as fast as sales of run, industry analysts said, and Grey Goose is the high flyer among high priced vodkas, selling for close to $30 a bottle.
Simon Property Group, already the world's largest manager of malls, agreed to pay $3.5 billion for Chelsea Property Group, which owned 35 factory outlet centers.
The Lowes cineplex movie theatre chain -- third largest in the business -- was sold by its Canadian owners to three American firms, among them the Washington-based Carlyle Group, which is best known for its investments in defense and high-tech companies. The $1.5 billion deal was led by Boston's Bain Capital and also included Spectrum Equity Investors, another Boston buyout firm.
It was a busy weekend for Carlyle, which teamed up with Japan's Kyocera Corp. to pay $2 billion for a 90 percent stake in the wireless Internet operations of KDDI Corp., Japan's second largest telephone company.
Today's weak market reflected the weekend updates, from Wall Street strategists who predicted traders will be cautious this week because of what's on the schedule for next week.
The Federal Reserve will make a decision on interest rates on June 30 and is widely expected to begin lifting rates from their record low levels.
June 30 is also when the United States is scheduled to turn over authority in Iraq to local officials -- a far less predictable event as far as Wall Street is concerned. Today's capture of British patrol boats by Iran and the ambush death of four U.S. servicemen in Ramadi were seen as omens of unstable times ahead in the Middle East.